Category Archives: Vancouver Issues

Trade and transportation news with a Vancouver, BC connection.

YVR plans 60% passenger increase between 2016-2037

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has released more documentation on its 20-year planning exercise, YVR 2037 Master Plan.

The most recent round of public consultation on Phase 3 launched on January 18th which coincided with the Flight Plan 2037 announcement and closed on Feb. 20, 2017.

The increased passenger number speculates on 35 million passengers in 2037, versus 22 million at present. YVR is careful to stress the risks or probabilities of 20-year forecasts. Its forecast of aircraft movements on the other hand is much lower than the 60% passenger increase cited in the title of this post. Whether this presupposes a greater number of larger capacity aircraft in future is not directly addressed (that I can see), but if aircraft movements cleave closely to passenger increases a 60% increase would translate into 510,000 annual movements compared to 2016’s 319,000 aircraft movements (runway and non-runway).

Trade secrets versus internet freedom

Today the Supreme Court of Canada opens a civil hearing that pits Equustek Solutions Inc., of Burnaby, BC, against Internet giant Google. Here’s the Supreme Court summary:

Under what circumstances may a court order a search engine to block search results, having regard to the interest in access to information and freedom of expression, and what limits (either geographic or temporal) must be imposed on those orders? — Do Canadian courts have the authority to block search results outside of Canada’s borders? — Under what circumstances, if any, is a litigant entitled to an interlocutory injunction against a non-party that is not alleged to have done anything wrong?

The plaintiffs sued their former distributors for unlawful appropriation of trade secrets, alleging that the distributors designed and sold counterfeit versions of their products. The plaintiffs obtained injunctions against the distributors, prohibiting them from carrying on any business online. When this proved ineffective, the plaintiffs sought a court order against Google, to prohibit it from displaying search results that included the distributors’ websites.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia granted a worldwide injunction against Google, finding that it had territorial competence over Google and that it possessed an inherent jurisdiction to maintain the rule of law and protect its processes, which in appropriate circumstances may include an injunction against non-parties. In this case, the balance of convenience favoured granting an injunction. The Court of Appeal agreed that the court held jurisdiction over Google with respect to the injunction application. It also concluded that it was permissible to seek interim relief against a non-party. The power to grant injunctions is presumptively unlimited, and injunctions aimed at maintaining order need not be directed solely at the parties involved in litigation. In this case, an injunction with worldwide effect was justified.1

Equustek designs and manufactures flexible communication interfaces mainly for the industrial automation industry. Products include gateways, bridges, and integration services. After a distribution agreement with American company Datalink Technologies foundered in the early 2000s things got messy, and confusing. However, around 2006 Datalink began selling a copy in substitution for one of Equustek’s products, and according to Equustek, returning defective counterfeits to Equustek for repair/replacement. (Sources: 1Supreme Court of Canada, case 36602 – Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., et al.; Reasons for Judgment in the successful appeal in BC Supreme Court of the original Equustek vs. Jack proceeding (16 pp., 167 Kb pdf); The Toronto Star, 2016-12-06, “Google, B.C. firm duel over free speech, copyright in Supreme Court battle“; Techdirt blog)

Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy roils container market

Korea’s Hanjin Shipping, the world’s seventh-largest container shipping line collapsed into bankruptcy this week after a restructuring proposal was rejected by creditors. Korea’s largest liner company reported $4.5 billion (USD) in liabilities on its June 30, 2016 financial report and efforts to attract more capital and extend payment periods on current debt quickly fell apart.

Several Hanjin vessels have been detained at various Chinese ports and one was being held in Singapore. Korean courts dealing with the bankruptcy are expected to work out terms for an orderly discontinuation of Hanjin’s shipping business that involves regaining control of its fleet overseas and the eventual liquidation of its assets.

The company owns 59 of the 132 ships in its fleet which consists of container and bulk vessels. Among its chartered vessels are three from Vancouver’s Seaspan Corporation which were delivered in 2014 on 10-year contracts with a total value of $364 million (USD). Seaspan now has 88 ships in total and says the Hanjin contracts are not significant enough to endanger its own business.

Hanjin, a member of the Trans Pacific Stabilization Conference, calls at Vancouver and other West Coast ports. See Hanjin’s service map for an overview of its routes. The company’s demise has stranded cargo at the start of container shipping’s high season when retailers are stocking inventory for Christmas season sales. It has also led to rate increases of 50% or more on the spot market for some containers on the Asia-U.S. West Coast route. (Sources: Hanjin Shipping; Bloomberg, 2016-08-30, Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Becomes Symbol of Industry in Pain); Vancouver Sun, 2016-08-31, “Hanjin Shipping receivership affects Seaspan Corp’s charter operations“; CNBC, 2016-08-31, “More Hanjin ships seized, as freight rates surge and cargo owners fret“; CBC News, 2016-09-01, “Giant container vessel stuck in Prince Rupert, company in receivership“)

Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table releases logistics labour market predictions for western provinces

The Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table’s1 Corridor Labour Market Information Project provides labour supply and demand information on 34 occupations in the air, logistics, rail, and trucking sectors for the Asia Pacific Gateway Corridor (APGC) transportation network, which extends from Manitoba to British Columbia. It provides occupational analysis at the four-digit National Occupation Classification2 (NOC) level. The forecasts were completed in conjunction with government and industry partners.

The reports and occupation snapshots are available at:

Read the Asia Pacific Gateway Corridor (APGC) LMI 2016-2025 Executive Summary (20 pp., 888 KB pdf).

Read the APGC LMI Background and Methodology Report (26 pp., 461 KB pdf).


The Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table (Skills Table) is a non-profit, regional partnership between labour, business, and education and training institutions. Our mandate is to coordinate decision-making and action to address overall concerns regarding labour shortages and skills gaps in the Asia Pacific Gateway, and build appropriate capacity in labour resources in innovative ways.

2 The National Occupation Classification “is the nationally accepted taxonomy and organizational framework of occupations in the Canadian labour market,” and is designed to classify occupational information from statistical surveys. The NOC is structured in a four-tiered hierarchical arrangement of occupational groups with successive levels of disaggregation as follows:

  • 10 broad occupational categories – Each broad occupational category has a unique one digit code number and is composed of one or more major groups.
  • 40 major groups – Each major group has a unique two-digit code number and is composed of one or more minor groups. The first digit of this code indicates the broad occupational category to which the major group belongs.
  • 140 minor groups – Each minor group has a unique three-digit code number and is composed of one or more unit groups. The first two digits of this code indicate the major group to which the minor groups belong.
  • 500 unit groups – Each unit group has a unique four-digit code. The first three digits of this code indicate the major and minor groups to which the unit group belongs.

Roberts Bank Terminal 2 update

The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project (RBT2) is a proposed new three-berth container terminal in Delta, B.C. (Deltaport) that would provide 2.4 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of additional container capacity. This project should not be confused with Deltaport Berth 3 which was completed in 2010. Transtalk last reviewed developments at Deltaport in 2008.

Artist rendering of proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2
Artist rendering of proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (image courtesy of Port of Vancouver)

The Port of Vancouver’s1 four existing container terminals have an annual capacity of about 3 million TEUs. The Port projects West Coast container traffic of 7 million TEUs, including the Port of Prince Rupert, by 2030.

RBT2 is part way through an environmental assessment process expected to finish in 2018. An overview of issues is provided in the Environmental Impact Assessment Executive Summary (124 pp., 5.15 MB pdf), published in March 2015. No decision on proceeding with RBT2 can be made before completion of the environmental review process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act.

Recent developments include the establishment of an independent three-member review panel to conduct the environmental assessment: Ms. Jocelyne Beaudet, chair, Dr. Diana Valiela and Dr. David Levy, members.


1In April 2016, the port dropped the name “Port Metro Vancouver” to become the “Port of Vancouver.” In addition, the port authority announced it will implement the consistent use of its legal name, the “Vancouver Fraser Port Authority,” when referencing activities or decisions of the port authority.

Cruise ship pollution

The Disney Wonder discharges garbage at Canada Place, 2016-05-23The Disney Wonder discharges garbage and takes on fuel at Canada Place, 2016-05-23 (Max Burley photo)

A recent article in The Guardian, “The world’s largest cruise ship and its supersized pollution problem” focuses on Southampton, UK. The Port of Southampton is Europe’s busiest cruise ship terminal, projecting 462 cruise ship calls in 2016 and more passengers than 2015’s 1.7 million. The port has four dedicated cruise ship terminals able to handle the largest vessels currently afloat.

The Guardian says,

The Harmony, owned by Royal Caribbean, has two four-storey high 16-cylinder Wärtsilä engines which would, at full power, each burn 1,377 US gallons of fuel an hour, or about 66,000 gallons a day of some of the most polluting diesel fuel in the world.

In port, and close to US and some European coasts, the Harmony must burn low sulphur fuel or use abatement technologies.

British Columbia’s Ministry of the Environment says1:

Marine engines make a sizeable contribution to emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM2.5), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) on a provincewide basis. The contribution is even more significant when one considers that many of these emissions are concentrated in the busy ports of the Lower Mainland.

Marine engines use either marine diesel or marine heavy fuel oil. Both of these fuels have much higher sulphur contents than transportation fuels used on land. For ocean going ships visiting B.C., fuel sulphur contents typically fall in the range of 1 to 3% (this compares to 15 ppm or 0.0015% sulphur content for on-road diesel in Canada).

To address air emissions from ships the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2010 adopted MARPOL Annex VI which contains the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA). Effective August 1, 2012, it applies to ships operating in US and Canadian waters. The ECA extends approximately 200 nautical miles offshore and stipulates that when in force all ships operating in this area must use fuel oil with a sulphur content that does not exceed 1.0% m/m (10,000 ppm). See the IMO’s Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships page for more information.

The Harmony of the Seas won’t be visiting Vancouver anytime soon because, like other recent cruising colossuses, it is too big to pass under the Lions Gate Bridge.

Port Metro Vancouver’s shore power initiative has the potential to greatly reduce ship emissions in the lower mainland. Ships with the necessary equipment can shut down their auxiliary engines while at the dock and “plug in” to the electrical grid. Currently available only at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal (shore power enabled berths for container ships at Centerm Berth Five and Deltaport Third Berth are scheduled to be operational in 2017) the service recorded 76 successful connections in 2014, out of 98 ship calls having connection capability2.

In 2015, Port Metro Vancouver recorded 228 cruise ship calls with 805,000 passengers (includes both embarkations and disembarkations)3.

Other resources:

3Cruise Statistics Report 2008-2015, Port Metro Vancouver

Report assesses risk of Canadian marine shipping accidents

A new workshop report, Commercial Marine Shipping Accidents: Understanding the Risks in Canada (84 pp., 2.9 MB pdf), released on April 28, 2016 by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), explores risk by focusing on the likelihood of commercial marine shipping accidents across Canada as well as the potential social, economic, and environmental impacts of such accidents. The report and associated workshop were commissioned by the Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping (Clear Seas).


The following questions were developed by Clear Seas to guide the expert panel workshop:

  • What are the main areas of social, environmental, and economic risk associated with key stages of marine shipping of goods [such as oil, coal, and liquefied natural gas, and hazardous and noxious substances] in Canadian waters?
  • Are these risks commonly agreed upon?
  • To what extent are they measurable?

Key Findings

  • Commercial marine shipping risks are mitigated by a large body of regulations, safety protocols and practices, and navigation technologies, which have made marine shipping, in Canada and globally, much safer in recent decades.
  • Commercial marine shipping operates in a complex risk environment where a variety of factors interact to increase or decrease the likelihood of an accident and the severity of its impact.
  • The nature of commercial marine shipping risk varies by region due to differences in cargo, regulation, physical traits of the marine environment, and economic, social, and cultural uses of waterways and coastlines.
  • Risks associated with major oil spills are significant and well documented, and they underscore how resulting environmental impacts can bring about social, economic, and health impacts.
  • Better-quality marine shipping data are needed if the likelihood of incidents and accidents is to be better understood and measured for different cargo types, stages of shipping, and types of impacts.
  • Further research would address gaps in the understanding of Canada’s marine risk environment, particularly with respect to impacts of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) and diluted bitumen, spills in freshwater and cold environments, and on the multi-agency system that oversees marine safety in Canada.
The Council of Canadian Academies is an independent, not-for-profit organization that supports independent, authoritative, and evidence-based expert assessments that inform public policy development in Canada. The Council’s work encompasses a broad definition of science, incorporating the natural, social and health sciences as well as engineering and the humanities.

The Council began operation in 2005 and consists of a Board of Governors, a Scientific Advisory Committee and Secretariat. The Council draws upon the intellectual capital that lies within its three Member Academies: the Royal Society of Canada (RSC); the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE); and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS).

The CCA received an initial endowment of $30 million from the Government of Canada in 2005. In 2015, this commitment was renewed with an additional endowment of $15 million over five years.

The not-for-profit Clear Seas was established in 2014 with three-year funding contributions of $3.7 million each from the Government of Canada (Transport Canada), the Government of Alberta (Alberta Energy) and industry groups represented by CAPP (Candian Association of Petroleum Producers). (Source: CCA and Clear Seas web sites)

Uber’s effect on Los Angeles taxis

“City records show that Uber and Lyft have devastated L.A.’s taxi industry” says the Los Angeles Times, 2016-04-14.

The most notable loss for taxis in L.A. is a decline of more than 50% for pre-arranged trips (i.e. booked by phone or online) from the city neighbourhoods that used to represent most of such trips. The number of taxi drivers has declined 14% over the past three years. However poorer neighbourhoods have seen improvements in taxi service as drivers chase a smaller pool of available trips.

Uber and Lyft are now allowed to pick up at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), the most lucrative source of taxi trips. Although the two companies are picking up about 24,000 rides per week at LAX, the taxi industry has enjoyed several years of increased airport fares.

Uber advances in Canada

In Canada, Ottawa this week agreed to license Uber operations, starting Sept. 30, 2016. Ottawa Council’s decision was based in part on City of Ottawa Taxi and Limousine Regulations and Service Review. The report, dated Oct. 1, 2015, compares statistics, regulations and proposals about the Uber-taxi battle with an emphasis on Canadian cities.

Uber now has services in 11 Canadian cities, although some are operating clandestinely or are constrained by municipal opposition.

  • Edmonton
  • Hamilton
  • Kingston
  • Kitchener-Waterloo
  • London
  • Montreal
  • Niagara
  • Ottawa
  • Quebec City
  • Toronto
  • Windsor

Vancouver pays $55 million for Arbutus rail corridor

The City of Vancouver and CP (Canadian Pacific Railway) today announced a deal transferring ownership of CP’s track and right of way between False Creek and Marpole on the city’s south side. Known as the Arbutus corridor for its proximity to Arbutus Street, the rail line has been little used since the early 1980s when CPR vacated its main rail yard on the north shore of False Creek and removed the rail bridge spanning that inlet.

The City and railway have spent much of the past 30 years in a public legal battle (see also here) for control of the approximately 25-acre, 11-km. long site. The City wanted green space, CP wanted real estate profits.

Details of the agreement are scant as to terms and timelines. The following is gleaned from brief press releases:

  • Sale price $55 million
  • “The agreement also allows CP to share in future proceeds on the eventual
    development and/or sale of certain parcels of the corridor.” (CPR)
  • The purchase “represents 42 acres of open space running approximately nine kilometres from Milton Street to 1st Avenue.” (City)

One infers from the above that there will be real estate development, and profits to CP, on the parts of the rail line extending north of 1st Avenue and east of Milton St. See the maps below.